The Moral Economy of the State

Conservation, Community Development, and State-Making in Zimbabwe

William Munro



The Moral Economy of the State examines state formation in Zimbabwe from the colonial period through the first decade of independence. Drawing on the works of Gramsci, E. P. Thompson, and James Scott, William Munro develops a theory of “moral economy” that explores negotiations between rural citizens and state agents over legitimate state incursions in social life. This analysis demonstrates how states try to shape the meanings of citizenship for agrarian populations by redefining conceptions of the public good, property rights, and community membership.


The book's focus on the moral economy of the state offers a refreshing perspective on the difficulties experienced by postcolonial African states in building stronger state and rural institutions.


Dr. William Munro teaches courses in International Politics, African Politics, Conflict Areas in the Global South, Development Theory, and Social Movements Illinois Wesleyan University.